Lindsey Graham: In Today’s Republican Party, Reagan Wouldn’t Make it as a Republican

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ronald reagan.jpgThe Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz profiles reactions to Tea-Partyism today and notes that Senator Lindsey Graham, who once told me that his favorite film was Seven Days in May and that one of his biggest fears for the country was national security and military demagoguery, doesn’t have much time for the Tea Party.
From Kurtz’s good piece:

And then there’s Lindsey Graham.
The South Carolina senator has already ticked off the right by being willing to negotiate deals with Democrats. He doesn’t see bipartisanship as a dirty word.
Now he’s turned his tart tongue on the tea types.
What’s more, the New York Times Magazine brands him “This Year’s Maverick”–which, given the source, is unlikely to boost his standing in some GOP circles.
Since it began posting articles online in midweek, the Times Magazine has boosted its impact to newsmagazine levels–and I expect this new piece by Robert Draper will be no exception:
” ‘Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,’ Graham said. . . . On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was ‘very, very contentious,’ he recalled. During a later meeting, in Charleston, Graham said he challenged them: ‘ ‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’. . . . Everybody went from being kind of hostile to just dead silent.’
“In a previous conversation, Graham told me: ‘The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.’ Now he said, in a tone of casual lament: ‘We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.’ Chortling, he added, ‘Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.’ ”
Yow. He’s saying the tea party has no answers, and that his party has moved so far to the right that Reagan would be seen as a squishy moderate.

What Graham and Kurtz are reflecting on is really important.
Today’s Republican Party is not a comfortable place for many classic Republicans — including former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, former G.W. Bush campaign co-chair in New York Rita Hauser, Ike granddaughter Susan Eisenhower, and former Rhode Island Senator Lincoln Chafee and Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel.
But Reagan, Eisenhower, Ford, and even the ghost of Richard Nixon would feel out of place with the course of the Republican Party today. If the comments of George H.W. Bush best friend Brent Scowcroft about the Republicans today are any benchmark for the views of President #41, then add that President to the roster too.
All of this is why I don’t see someone like General David Petraeus easily saddling up to the Republican Party in his post-military, post-Afghanistan Eisenhoweresque rise. I have watched Petraeus carefully in the last few years — met him several times — and there is simply nothing in his character that would allow him to stroke the egos of the modern equivalent of the Know Nothing Party.
Petraeus could find himself on a White House course one of either two ways — and both involve knocking back the Tea Party movement.
Either President Obama, who is a shrewd neutralizer of political rivals, plays a wild card in the 2012 race and offer his VP slot for the next term neither to Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton but rather to General Petraeus — thus robbing from the Republicans and the Tea Party movement someone who may be the best chance for a revival of ‘America as Great Power, national security-oriented leadership’.
Alternatively, if Petraeus survives the real and political challenges of his new brief as military czar in Afghanistan, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin could play their best hand in 2012, get crushed in the election, and then have the Republican Party adopt a Petraeus-led new leadership after the Tea Party is lobotomized from the institution.
While I don’t think that the Tea Party will win the White House or even make much headway in the two chambers of Congress, the net impact is that their actions will pull the Dems to the right. And Barack Obama’s survivability in 2012 rises right along with the popularity of the Tea Party.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

77 comments on “Lindsey Graham: In Today’s Republican Party, Reagan Wouldn’t Make it as a Republican

  1. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, how did I attack you, at all? I was agreeing with you about post-modernism.
    When I said I didn’t know what you meant by “liberal” that is a sincere confusion. I know what Kesler means, but Kesler’s “liberal” would include Obama. Kesler regards the various ‘compromises’ as inherent in not really believing your principles are true. But you say your definition of “liberal” doesn’t include Obama. At this point I don’t understand what your definition is.

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  2. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    There you go again with religion. I know nothing about the Koran, but I do have an abiding distrust of all religions. The one religion I do know something about has this in its bible: Ecclesiastes 25:22 “Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.” Powerful stuff.
    Regarding liberals, you’re the one who introduced the term, through Kesler, and I already thanked you for introducing me to absolute truth so you needn’t break my chops with an argument on liberals.
    A personal note: If you’d ratchet back just a notch on your heated attacks you might attract less insulting opposition. Take a deep one. You’re welcome.

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  3. nadine says:

    “But to broaden Obama’s (wrongful) position to all liberals is wrong, for one thing because I don’t consider Obama to behave like a liberal, as I noted above.” (Don Bacon)
    I’m not sure what you even mean by “liberal” in this sentence. It meant one thing in the days of Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon Johnson; it means something different and more multi-cultural now.
    Your chief complaint about Obama is that he compromises too much. But Kesler was not referring to compromising liberals; he was talking about the ambiguities and contradictions inherent in doctrinaire liberal positions.

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  4. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, the President, like other postmodern multi-culturalists, tries to have it both ways by pretending that Founders’ rejection of any ONE creed as possessing absolute truth also meant the Founders rejected the EXISTENCE of absolute truth. They did not. When they declared rights “inalienable” i.e. bestowed by God and not to be removed by man, they were speaking of an absolute truth.
    This is the self-contradiction at the heart of muli-culturalism. Multi-culturalism declares that all values are relative and no culture can be judged better than any other, because there does not exist an external standard on which to judge cultures.
    Yet some cultures speak of life and liberty as inalienable rights, while others don’t think they are rights at all. The Koran quite explicitly says that unbelievers don’t have any rights to life or liberty unless they convert or submit to Muslims.
    So if a multi-culturialist speaks of inalienable rights, what does he mean? For practical purposes, he means only ‘inside our cultural construct’ usually vaguely defined as white or Western.
    But does that really mean he condones slavery and mass murder if non-Western people do it? It does, but he can’t say that. He just turns a blind eye to human rights violations committed by non-Westerners. Multi-culturalists are great at turning a blind eye.

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  5. Don Bacon says:

    absolute rights
    The Declaration of Independence, 1776, recognizes that people have certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
    Life: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, recognizes the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world . . . Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
    Liberty: Every person has the right to behave according to one’s own personal responsibility and free will.
    Happiness: The right to pursue any lawful business or vocation, in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give them their highest enjoyment.
    There are other absolute rights, but these are the basic ones. The government was established to protect our basic, absolute rights. That the president doesn’t understand this is distressing. But since he has ordered the arbirary taking of lives it is not surprising.

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  6. David says:

    Don,
    It is anything but silly. Obama is correct. There are no absolutes in the Declaration, the Preamble, or the Constitution. There are guiding principles, there is a basic structure for a federal government, there are ten essential provisions known as the Bill of Rights. And the phrase “certain inalienable rights” is front-and-center. But everything is subject to modification, to change, to contemporary interpretation. It is simply supposed to be difficult to make fundamental changes, so that they are not the result of momentary passions.
    Even laws are not absolute. A jury has the right to acquit if it believes conviction based on an existing law would be unjust, and we even have the common law principle, handed down from English legal evolution, of the necessity defense, namely that a person can be acquitted of a crime if that crime was committed to prevent a more serious crime.
    Obama did not make silly comments in that book. He might have made comments you disagree with, and his propensity for compromise is problematic, but only because of the radically ideological obstructionist national Republican machine with which he is trying to find common ground.
    He just set forth $2 billion for two solar companies to move forward. I would make it $20 billion for ten companies, but this is a number the Republican obstructionists probably can’t block with their crocodile tears about the deficit.

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
    From Barack Obama

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  8. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, you might be interested in this analysis of Obama from the right. Charles Kesler tries to place Obama’s ‘New New Deal’ in the tradition of Wilson and FDR, but notes that Obama’s postmodernism is a serious difficulty for him:
    “Obama’s ambivalence is, in many ways, the perfect symbol of the dilemma of the contemporary liberal. How can Obama argue that America and liberalism reject absolute truths, and in the same breath affirm

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  9. nadine says:

    Don, just because Obama didn’t cancel every inherited government program hardly means he didn’t change direction: $1 Trillion stimulus, takeover of car companies, banks, student loans, Obamacare, etc. are his, and they are adding trillions to the national debt. Now we have uncontrolled Federal spending without a budget.
    “I definitely don’t mean to imply that Obama is capable of these actions. He made it clear years ago that he was (is) an unprincipled compromiser, which has been his downfall. If one doesn’t stand for anything than one will fall for everything.”
    Yes and no. That’s the weird thing about Obama. He is a compromiser (within the Democratic caucus) and sees himself as a moderate; but his direction is determined by left-wing ideology and payoffs to his buddies. That’s why tort reform and allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines, two free health insurance reforms which would have greatly helped the problem of unaffordable insurance, were never on the table in Obamacare. Now everybody’s costs are going up and millions will lose their coverage. How long before everybody figures out Obama is a liar?
    Let’s put it this way: if Obama really had no preference as to direction, he could have pursued some genuinely popular positions. Instead he has pursued minority left-wing positions and lied about them.

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    I didn’t make it clear that I was responding to David’s “Now to find out how good a strategist he is, and whether or not a POTUS has any actual power outside of vested interests status quo.”
    Obama would of course have to re-invent himself to do this by (1) becoming a communicator instead of a pompous speechifier (2) promoting some actual (progressive) programs and (3) convincing Americans that these (progressive) programs would benefit them more than continuing failed Repub programs* at higher cost (your “governed left”) would.
    *war & military spending, corporate & wall street welfare, patriot act, no child left behind, drug war, job outsourcing, close gitmo, end wanton killing & torture, etc.
    I definitely don’t mean to imply that Obama is capable of these actions. He made it clear years ago that he was (is) an unprincipled compromiser, which has been his downfall. If one doesn’t stand for anything than one will fall for everything.

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  11. nadine says:

    “Obama could have gone directly to the people, as FDR and HST did, and as Carter tried to do, but he chose not to. No press conferences, no fireside chats, no lambasting of the Congress as Truman did. He’s good at talking down to people but he is a lousy communicator. Actually, he didn’t have anything worthwhile to take to the people since he has mainly continued Bush’s policies at a higher rate of expenditure. ”
    I agree that Obama is actually not that good a politician. Clinton’s description of him as an “off the rack” Chicago pol is holding up well. However, the basic problem for any politician “going to the people” is that he’s got to propose something acceptable to the people. The American people are not socialists. Only 20% call themselves “liberals”, according to Gallup. If Obama had gone to the people he would have had to have chosen policies in the center. Instead, he talked center but governed left.

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  12. nadine says:

    “I hope you are right about Petreaus’ character, but see this very disturbing story about his disavowal to Max Boot of his congressional testimony on the threat to Americans posed by US favoritism to Israel in its Middle East policy.” (MCT)
    If you take the trouble to actually read Petraeus’ report and listen to his testimony, you will see that he has been consistent throughout. It is Mark Perry who tried to twist Petraeus’ words out of context in order to claim Petraeus’ support for Perry’s constant shilling for Hamas and Hizbullah. Petraeus was just trying to set the record straight.

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  13. Don Bacon says:

    Obama made it crystal clear years ago that he wouldn’t champion progressive policies and would instead be a compromiser. Then he found out that it takes two to tango and he’s been powerless.
    Obama could have gone directly to the people, as FDR and HST did, and as Carter tried to do, but he chose not to. No press conferences, no fireside chats, no lambasting of the Congress as Truman did. He’s good at talking down to people but he is a lousy communicator. Actually, he didn’t have anything worthwhile to take to the people since he has mainly continued Bush’s policies at a higher rate of expenditure.
    This high-cost option has lost him not only the Repubs but also the Blue Dogs and has fomented the Tea Party. The country is now in uncharted waters, like an oil spill kind of drifting to a bad ending.

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  14. David says:

    As a now 68-year-old Southerner, I must second what questions said: “And even though there are some pretty retrograde sensibilities on race, class, gender, demographics, religion and so on, the fact is that the feelings are real, the constituents are real, there’s real political power in that disgruntlement and so it must be dealt with.” I does not have to be pandered to, but it must be understood and dealt with. It is only in understanding it that any chance of dealing with it exists. I think Howard Dean understood this. And I think Obama was trying to incorporate this principle. I just think he had no idea how powerful or how ruthless the beneficiaries of this fact are. He seemed to think Republicans would join in in helping solve our real problems, especially if he incorporated their thinking where he could. He finally acknowledged publicly that the only goal of the Republican machine was to block any and all achievements in pursuit of the goal of defeating him and the Democrats in ’10 and ’12, something deMented was willing to crow about. Now to find out how good a strategist he is, and whether or not a POTUS has any actual power outside of vested interests status quo.

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  15. MCT says:

    I hope you are right about Petreaus’ character, but see this very disturbing story about his disavowal to Max Boot of his congressional testimony on the threat to Americans posed by US favoritism to Israel in its Middle East policy.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/07/petraeus-fed-his-pro-israel-bona-fides-to-a-neocon-writer-including-pathetic-recitation-of-meeting-wiesel.html

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  16. Don Bacon says:

    Happy Independence Day everyone
    Though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable . . . the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression. — Thomas Jefferson
    Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.– James Madison
    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either. — Ben Franklin
    Must the citizen, ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think we should be men first, and subjects afterward. — Henry David Thoreau
    No man is wise enough to be another man’s master. Each man’s as good as the next — if not a damn sight better. . .I know my own nation best. That’s why I despise it the most. And I know and love my own people, too, the swine. I’m a patriot. A dangerous man. — Edward Abbey
    Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations. — Hannah Arendt

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  17. nadine says:

    “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”
    — Ayn Rand

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  18. nadine says:

    “So the general fund “borrowed” from SoSec, reducing the costs of the borrowing and letting taxpayers keep their money.”
    Keep what money, questions? The taxpayers were already paying social security tax and federal income tax. Oh, you mean the government “saved” the taxpayer money by not jacking up tax rates to 60%? In reality, there are limits to tax levels, as Obama will find if he lets the Bush tax cuts expire, which will be a large across the board hike in the middle of a deep recession.
    “Remember the “cling to guns and religion” buzz? That was a status thing.”
    No questions, that was a Thomas Franks neo-Marxist false-consciousness thing, as the far left tries to figure out why the stupid little people in flyover country won’t see that giving the Left immense power over their lives is really in “their best interest”. So the Left starts babbling about status and clinging to false beliefs. Because the little people don’t vote the “right” way.
    I suppose you could say its a “status” thing if you want to retain your freedom of action and your property rights without some Federal bureaucrat telling you you can’t use energy because it emits carbon dioxide and you can’t use or sell your land because some critter on the “endangered species” list flies through it once in a while.
    The status we are talking about here is the status of “free citizen” as opposed to “subject of a soft tyranny”. There is indeed a fear of loss of this status.

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  19. questions says:

    nadine,
    On the SoSec thing, what I read is the following: The gov’t had to do whatever governments do, and it could borrow from outside or “borrow” from inside at significantly reduced cost. So the general fund “borrowed” from SoSec, reducing the costs of the borrowing and letting taxpayers keep their money.
    It’s not a smart thing, perhaps, to sit on a vast pool of money rather than putting it to work. Hence the “trust fund” was put to work. It’s not bad bookkeeping to do this, according to what I’ve read.
    But again, you take these rhetorical stances about OMG IOUs and you run with same. But you don’t define the context well enough so that we can actually analyze what the IOUs are, why they are there, whether or not there’s too much borrowing or not enough borrowing (which happens as well — if you’re too afraid of debt that you forgo college education, you limit your income for life, not so good).
    Without the perspective of a decent economist, your rhetoric just ends up completely uninformative and panicky.
    And Dan, you can’t just dismiss the loss of status thing — it affects our political system in vast ways. The solid south, the defection of conservative dems to the other side, much of our political dynamic including war stuff, gender stuff, and race stuff — all of this is wrapped up with status issues.
    It’s fine to dismiss it only if you don’t want to draw up workable coalitions. Remember the “cling to guns and religion” buzz? That was a status thing. There are people who pride themselves on whatever traits and when they find those traits dismissed, they feel deep wounding. You can say tough shit, or you can take seriously the social problems that arise when there’s a significant portion of the population that feels wounded.
    This wounding plays across so many issues that the dismissive tone you express is probably not really politically smart, and might even be on the emotionally not so great side of things as well. A smart politician tries to ease these feelings, and a compassionate politician tries to understand what it’s like to lose what you most value. And even though there are some pretty retrograde sensibilities on race, class, gender, demographics, religion and so on, the fact is that the feelings are real, the constituents are real, there’s real political power in that disgruntlement and so it must be dealt with.
    Status loss is a major social phenomenon. It can lead to violence. It must be reckoned with, not dismissed.

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  20. nadine says:

    “well governed polity of disciplined adults”? “serious long range plans”?
    Dan, could you please tell me what you are smoking, for it must be some damn fine stuff.
    “Last night, as part of a procedural vote on the emergency war supplemental bill, House Democrats attached a document that

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  21. Dan Kervick says:

    Oh, what a bunch of whining babies the tea partiers be. I used to teach college, and most of the current crop of libertarian, neo-populist ranters and bellyachers have the emotional and social maturity of the average 19 year old male college student. It

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  22. linda szmal says:

    foreign policy.
    for starters —
    “Fed Made Taxpayers Unwitting Junk-Bond Buyers”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-01/fed-s-maiden-lane-made-taxpayers-junk-bond-buyers-without-congress-knowing.html
    can honest people from south carolina really be proud of sanford and graham?

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  23. questions says:

    nadine, I honestly don’t know the significance of the numbers. Find a link to some economics lit that discusses the trade offs of cutting back right now vs. not, of spending more on unemployment benefits or not, of the Bush tax cuts…. All of this has to be weighed by people with a solid econ background.
    If you tell my you have a Ph.D. in econ, I will listen more readily to your economics posts. But I suspect you don’t, and I suspect that you get most of your sense of things from limited sources such that you thing 60% or 85% is a currently significant figure. This in the same thread as Krugman’s piece noting that it’s just not as important as stimulus in the short term.
    Krugman studied econ, has a Ph.D. and a current teaching gig, publications in his field, some respect, and would seem to have a better sense of things. He makes structured arguments. He’s a little too in love with the Clintons for my taste, but hey, I can cope.
    At any rate, he differs from you significantly on this issue, and I have to say, I trust him more than I do you. Sorry about that. It’s true, though.
    I’ve read a few econ books lately. Not the math versions of things, so there’s still a limit on what I know about econ — lots of taking derivatives or something. But the stuff I’ve read seems to go against much of what you post on econ issues, and again, there are structured arguments by people with decent academic reputations, publications, teaching gigs — the kind of stuff that suggests there’s at least a chance they know what they are talking about.
    So snark away!

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  24. nadine says:

    questions, since you don’t understand economic arguments, I was trying to put it into terms you might understand. But it turns out you don’t get analogies either.
    We couldn’t afford the entitlements in place when Obama took office. After he adds $10 Trillion to the national debt, doubles the Federal budget, and creates a slew of new entitlements, we can afford the entitlements much less. We will become Greece.
    You want a simple definition of fiscal sanity? National debt under 60% of GDP, as it was under Clinton and Bush. Now its 85% and climbing.

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  25. Neo Controll says:

    “I would really benefit from a program of a cruise around the world . . .” (nadine)
    I’m not sure if you would benefit, but I strongly endorse the concept, especially if you would be without means of communication.

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  26. questions says:

    nadine, you miss the point entirely.
    If you read enough Plato, after a while you realize that Socrates argues in analogies. Nearly everything is analogous to something else, and the something else becomes the topic at some level.
    So here you are talking about CRUISES and affordability.
    BUT, I have said nothing about cruises.
    And I don’t have a working definition of affordability either.
    I cannot “afford” a big house, car and private university education on my weekly income. In the LONG run, I can borrow money, presume that I’ll have work for many years, and get housed, transported and educated. I know that my being housed, transported and educated will increase my future income to some future level, and so I figure I’ll get something of a return on my investment such that it’s worthwhile.
    Similarly (omg, I’m using an analogy!!! OOPS), I figure that if I invest some big bucks in health insurance (that I have a hard time affording) I will save some money later on cancer treatments for the cancer will be caught before metastasis rather than after.
    So which can I AFFORD? To have no education, no pension, no health insurance, or to have them despite the opportunity costs of putting my money into these benefits rather than others?
    Nothing here about CRUISES. Cancer treatment and cruises are not analogous. Retirement savings and cruises are not analogous. University education and cruises are not analogous.
    Pick your analogies better. And then help the Tea Partiers understand that “afford” is, dare I say it, a complex concept with a wide range of meanings.
    AND, as a BONUS just for you, to what extent are the Greeks and the Americans ANALOGOUS??? I do not know the answer to this. It sounds all Greek to me. Is that our path? Will austerity save them? Does the US have the unpaid tax problem of the Greeks? What are the respective work weeks like, the productivity and so on? Levels of corruption? I do not know. And therefore, I do not know if Greece is a good analogue to the US.
    And one more bonus — no, not big daddy government gonna rescue me from all that ails me. RATHER, collective savings so that when one individual falls short out of bad luck or a market crash, there are others to step in and help out. Coordination isn’t big daddy, it’s prisoner’s dilemma avoidance strategies. Communication and coordination of behavior are crucial. Next thing you know, you’ll be bitching about those fucking BIG DADDY TRAFFIC LIGHTS that both coordinate AND communicate traffic patterns. Well, fuck them. I’m striking out on my own, traffic wise! SMASH. oops!
    But I would guess you’ll keep using bad analogues despite their ill-suited nature. It’s a useful rhetorical flourish! And it keeps you from doing the economic analysis that needs to be done to know if there’s a real analogy there or not.

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  27. nadine says:

    “People who oppose programs from which they are currently benefiting, or who would oppose programs from which they would benefit, AND who cannot discern the basic outlines of those programs are not necessarily the people whom I would trust to make judgments about programs in general.” (questions)
    I would really benefit from a program of a cruise around the world, the kind where you can not only see the sights and eat well, but get to see shows and hear lectures from experts in the field.
    However, I oppose any plans for me to go on this great cruise, because I need to earn a living and it wouldn’t be wise to blow my retirement saving and go deep into debt to pay for this cruise, however beneficial it might be in the short-term.
    All your proscriptions are for the whole US to just entrust Big Daddy government to take them on a really great cruise, and never mind if we can afford it or who will pay the bills.

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  28. questions says:

    “Wigwag, the Tea Partiers are for fiscal sanity, not fiscal “austerity”. Fiscal sanity now is what will prevent us from face the array of all-bad choices that Greece is facing. “”
    This, according to Nadine.
    The problem with the language is that wea are ALL FOR fiscal sanity, but just what sanity is is not quite clear.
    Is it sane NEVER to go into debt for anything? Not for education, a house, a car? Should we never deal with crisis through debt?
    Once you allow debt, you have to ask how much debt, what the risk of the debt is, what the relationship between the ability to pay and the amount of the debt is, what the interest costs, what the cost of NOT BORROWING is. Remember, inaction is action.
    Many many many economists right now think that the cost of borrowing is far better a thing to pay than would be the cost of not borrowing.
    There was a fair amount of consensus that bailing out the fucking oligarchs was pretty necessary despite the hold-our-collective-nose side of things. Remember, our general good is sadly thoroughly tied the the great good of the oligarchs. They fail, we’re sunk.
    So, whether or not THE PEOPLE think something is a good idea doesn’t always make it so. It may well have been a necessary if unfortunate thing to do.
    I would prefer to hear from some economists, and not from some guy who’s pissed about BIG GOVERNMENT. I would prefer to hear from some economists rather than some people who recall Reagan’s demonizing deficits without any explanation about what it all meant. I would rather hear from some economists than from someone who stupidly thinks to himself, “Well, gee, I have to balance my budget every month, so the government should too,” when in fact said guy is on the 4th year of a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, has a car note, and is paying off student loans. That’s not balancing the budget, that’s borrowing to improve one’s conditions such that one will be able to pay off the debt in the future.
    So, please define “fiscal sanity” in a way that is accurate, factual, and economically sound.

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  29. questions says:

    Part of the interesting thing about irrationality and ignorance, both, is that they think they are a)rational and b)knowing.
    People who oppose programs from which they are currently benefiting, or who would oppose programs from which they would benefit, AND who cannot discern the basic outlines of those programs are not necessarily the people whom I would trust to make judgments about programs in general.
    There is a lot of misinformation about “big government” as a phrase. It’s emotional, not informational. How big, how big is too big, what should step in in the place of that BIG gov’t, list programs and costs you would be happy to do without and then explain how you would pay for that very service without the economies of scale we get…..
    What do you do when the market tanks the day before you have to pull money out for retirement?
    What do you do when your ophthalmologist calls himself “board certified” but the only board that certified him was a board he created for the sole purpose of certifying himself? Would you not want some recourse in the law? If you want legal recourse, you need a government to deal with it.
    There is much that we do collectively that is better done collectively than individually. There are endless prisoner’s dilemmas to avoid, there are irrational and simply stupid behaviors we engage in individually, but that are so costly that we would be better off being protected from that, and we eventually try to protect ourselves, but too late in life to fix things.
    You have to think past the current temporal moment, and no one is really good at that individually, so collectively we shall move forward.
    And meanwhile, the only future-oriented thing the Tea Party seems to get is the need for an underground electric fence and the need to stop birthright citizenship to protect us from the terrorist babies.
    THAT’S the future they’re worried about?????

    Reply

  30. questions says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/02/mark-zandi-congress-shoul_n_634091.html
    Mark Zandi (economist, and advisor to McCain) vs. the Tea Party on matters of the economy.
    *********
    “Mark Zandi, chief economist with Moody’s Economy.com and a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said Friday that Congress needs to hurry up and reauthorize expired jobless aid or risk derailing the nascent economic recovery.
    “The odds that the economy will slip back into the recession are still well below even,” Zandi said during a conference call with reporters. “But if Congress is unable to provide this help, those odds will rise and become uncomfortably high.”
    ********
    I know whom I’d trust a little bit more…..

    Reply

  31. Don Bacon says:

    nadine,
    I know it’s mind-boggling that we agree but my ultimate “them” refers to protests not laws.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    “The Tea Party protests have centered on opposition to big government, TARP, ARRA stimulus and medical insurance for all, which have hardly been radical positions since the majority of Americans agree with them.
    ” (Don Bacon)
    Don, the bailouts, the stimulus, and Obamacare were all opposed by a majority of the voters when they were passed, and also now. Go look up the poll numbers.

    Reply

  33. questions says:

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/07/gohmert-on-terrorist-babies-theory-its-not-just-a-theory-video.php?ref=fpb
    TPM (oh no, not them….) with a piece on Gohmert of Tea Party fame and the fear of terrorist babies.
    Can anyone take these people seriously??

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    Wigwag, the Tea Partiers are for fiscal sanity, not fiscal “austerity”. Fiscal sanity now is what will prevent us from face the array of all-bad choices that Greece is facing. “Austerity” is what happens when you hit the wall. Greece is there now, we were already approaching it when Obama took office, he just decided to approach it at 80 mph instead of 40. Obama didn’t even follow Keyne’s proscription for a stimulus, which should build infrastructure and be quick and temporary, none of which the trillion dollars of the stimulus did. It is far from clear that Keynes rather than Hayek was the voice to listen to in the current circumstances.
    What Tea Partiers want is to keep the government (the non-productive party of the economy) from squeezing the life out of the private sector (the productive part of the economy). Now it is clearly news to you guys that the government is not the productive sector, but it happens to be an economic fact.
    Think of it as the administration in a large corporation, which neither makes the widgets, sells them, nor transports them to the customers.
    This is not to say that administration is not necessary or a corporation could do without it, but one should always remember it is a cost center, not a profit center. If the new CEO finds more than half the free cash flow of the corporation is funding the headquarters, he ought to look very carefully at what the shareholders are getting for their investment.
    Obama is like the CEO who tripled the staff at headquarters because he wanted to buy a whole bunch of new friends and dependents. Which is great for him, except the business is going broke.
    Have you ever attended a Tea Party or talked to Tea Party members, Wigwag? They are coalescing around fiscal issues, so there is more of a range of opinions on social and fp issues. But they do tend to be patriotic, i.e. they are proud of the USA right now, unlike the progressives, who are only proud of the USA when they get to run it.

    Reply

  35. questions says:

    Drew, does it really matter if the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport is MSP, any more than it matters that LA has LAX or DC has DCA or whatever?
    How in heaven’s name does it matter how we tag airports and the suitcases that move through them and the radio contact and whatever else IATA and ICAO use. (A quick trip to wiki, but I came across some of this years ago for some other project.)
    Honestly, how could it matter whether or not someone has flown into MSP?!
    “Maw” is a real word and not a bastardization of “mall”. Like for real. Like google it. “maw definition”.

    Reply

  36. questions says:

    I think the divide Maw points to has always been part of the Republican party. Coalitions don’t generally “reconcile” so much as they stick together til something else comes along. But there’s not a lot of place for any of the members of the right: the isolationists aren’t getting isolation, the religionists only get bits and pieces of what they want, the libertarians only get part of what they want, the econ. conservatives only get part of what they want….. They stick together because there’s no other game in town. And because there is this astroturf side to the Tea Party, they will all return to the Republican fold anyway.
    The result is that the politicians use their best batshit rhetoric for their own ends, they dance around making really stupid and/or ignorant statements, and they hope to have done enough constituent service to get re-elected.
    Just think about the dance Jindal’s been doing — he’s a smart guy who has to keep a fragile coalition together and what suffers is good governance.
    Rand Paul’s statements of his own natural preferences are batshit insane (as are Sharron Angle’s). Angle I think will lose. Paul I haven’t followed enough to keep track of.
    What will most likely happen eventually is that the batshit stuff will burn itself out and the party will slowly and carefully moderate over the next decade or so. You can’t bash “volcano monitoring” as a wasteful government program and keep people safe from, oh, umm, volcanoes. You can’t belittle climate change in the face of, ummm, severe weather effects from that very change. Eventually the facts will surface and some of the smarter people on the right will give in to their smarts instead of their populist ignorance-loving stupidity.
    (Note by the way, the sheer number of fact-like things that Fox ignores or lies about and that feed the base. From the Jones Act’s applicability to climate change, from the non-event of the CRA to the insanity of holding that people unemployed in a recession are simply lazy, Fox and the Foxy get it wrong…..)

    Reply

  37. W.E.B. Du Bois says:

    Let me address JFK and Truman for the Presidency, having done so for the Senate.
    Odds are no, they would not make it. JFK would be a neo-con today probably. Truman would oppose gay marriage and you have to at least pay lip service to supporting gay marriage to make it as a Democratic candidate for President.
    However, you are talking about 50 and 60 years ago, so that’s a lot longer than the 30 years that passed since Reagan was first elected.

    Reply

  38. Drew says:

    Jesus. The Mall of America is in suburban Minneapolis, and
    Minneapolis has as its ICAO identifier “MSP”.

    Reply

  39. W.E.B. Du Bois says:

    “Hey, would JFK make it in the current Democrat party? How about Truman?”
    – Brent
    (1) No such thing as a Democrat Party.
    (2) I think JFK would make it in the Democratic Party. Not in Massachusetts, but in many other states in the country. There are conservative Democrats in the party (Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, etc).
    (3) I think Truman would make it too. We already have a senator from Missouri (McCaskill). If you think Missouri is a liberal state….I’ll let others fill in the rest.

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  40. Maw of America says:

    Can anyone enlighten me on what MSP stands for? Since I don’t get it…

    Reply

  41. Don Bacon says:

    BLS Report June 2010
    Civilian noninstitutional population 237,690,000
    Civilian labor force 154,767,000
    Participation rate 65.1
    Employed 139,882,000
    Employment-population ratio 58.9
    Unemployed* 14,885,000
    Not in labor force 82,923,000
    Persons who currently want a job 6,461,000
    So 35 percent of eligible Americans (16 and over) are not in the labor force, about 82 million people.
    About 15 million of the 155 million in the labor force (six percent of the population) are “unemployed”. Persons are classified as unemployed if they do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work.
    The 82 million eligible people who are not employed and not unemployed either don’t need to work, have given up looking for work or work outside the statistics.
    About six million of the fifteen million unemployed, or about four percent of the labor force, “currently want a job”, whatever that means.
    of course these fancy government numbers don’t gibe with this:
    CNN: More than 55 percent of adults in the U.S. labor force are feeling the impact of unemployment or wage and work hour reductions since the economic downturn began 2

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  42. drew says:

    Maw, not that you’ve ever been to MSP, I suspect, you don’t get
    it. The GOP will do whatever gets them reelected. Now that
    Afghanistan is a just “war of necessity” (see the president’s
    remarks at his Nobel ceremony, having won the Nobel prize for
    … eh?) it’s his (Obama’s) war. Petraeus will pull the plug the
    first time Obama doesn’t give him what he needs to win, resign,
    and the fiasco will pull down what’s left of Democratic Party
    foreign policy credibility.
    What’s pathetic in these ramblings about war party this, war
    party that, is that real American people are in uniform getting
    dropped into the shit while these people in DC worry about
    what’s on Daily Caller tomorrow.
    Brent, you make an interesting point. There is a straight line
    from Kennedy’s “bear any burden” speech and Bush’s
    neoconservatism. The reason there *is* a neoconservative
    movement is that the Democratic Party abandoned Kennedy’s
    activist posture. But Kennedy’s foreign policy is to the right of
    the current Republican Party, so the whole picture will give you a
    headache if you like your politics puerile. (Not that you do, just
    some people.)

    Reply

  43. WigWag says:

    Maw of America nails it!
    Dan Kervick and Nadine have opposite views about the Tea Party primarily because they disagree about domestic policy. Dan detests the domestic policy prescriptions of the Tea Party movement while Nadine is sympathetic with those policy prescriptions.
    Paradoxically, on foreign policy issues, the Tea Partiers are almost certainly much closer to Dan (and even to Steve Clemons) than they are to Nadine.
    Tea Party sympathizers are not necessarily neoconservatives and they are certainly not evangelicals or even necessarily religious. Abortion and school prayer isn’t what motivates them and neither are religious symbols on public grounds.
    They believe in fiscal austerity and there’s no reason to assume that they don’t want that austerity to apply to the Pentagon. It seems to me that they would be much less likely to support intervention in places like Afghanistan or even Iraq than the average Republican.
    Like most Americans, they probably detest the Iranian regime, and they want to protect Americans from any nuclear threat from Iran; there is little reason to suspect that they believe that any threat Iran poses to American allies like Saudi Arabia or Israel, is America’s problem.
    While Tea Partiers almost certainly oppose the billions in foreign aid that the United States gives to Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians; there is no reason to believe that they support the even greater foreign aid that the United States gives to Israel.
    My guess is that Tea Partiers tend to me far more isolationist than the average Republican (or Democrat for that matter) and that they would advocate a far smaller foot print for the United States abroad. My guess is that they tend to be more modest in their support for the projection of American power and that like Steve Clemons; they worry alot that inappropriate use of force will cause American power to dissipate.
    Some people think that Sarah Palin is a Tea Partier; she’s not. Palin’s political genius is that she is a chameleon who can convince all factions in the Republican Party that she’s one of them.
    In actuality, Palin is an evangelical and a pretty staunch one at that. That’s the reason she supports Israel so vigorously and it

    Reply

  44. drew says:

    Dan Kervick, thank you for moving on from just calling your
    intellectual adversaries “ass*****” (great form of argument,
    incidentally, one that I will study and attempt one day to
    emulate) to attempting to summarize, with no apparent
    familiarity, the American populist movement.
    The national populist movement, the most successful third
    party, alternative movement in American history, (should one
    care to read about it, cf. Lawrence Goodwyn) was *ended* by
    your man Bryan). A Democrat and a Silverite, the many powerful
    motivations for the true populists, which may be summarized as
    a desire for local control of economic resources, were wiped out.
    James B. Weaver of Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa was the 1892
    nominee for president, by the Populists in their convention at
    Omaha. After that, the increasingly disheveled and dissembling
    Bryan blew up the movement with rhetoric and wild currency
    concerns. The Populists just wanted access to enough credit to
    get their crop in the ground; they, like most people in the Tea
    Party movement, just want to be left alone so that they could
    make a living. There’s this weird thing that Americans insist
    upon, over the years: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of
    happiness.” That phrase is not a “living document” free to be
    interpreted and discarded by people who have never had jobs.
    I think the biggest blind spot of the contemporary Progressives
    is that they do not understand that some people do not want to
    tell other people what to do, and how to live their lives. They
    (those people Clemons calls Know Nothings, presumably
    because that generates knowing laughter in fashionable cafes)
    believe this even if they went to really really super cool east
    coast schools. They just want to live their own lives in peace.
    And whether that means they prefer to buy incandescent light
    bulbs, or not send Kansas tax revenues to David Patterson and
    New York State in the form of another public union payoff,
    whoops, “stimulus”, it’s all of a piece. The Constitution says we
    get to live our lives in peace and free of this crap. The Tea
    Partiers are standing up and saying, Hey, but …. As Bacon notes,
    this is not a wacky set of positions. This is the majority of the
    country being afflicted by the first government in American
    history that “knows better” than its electors. This is the first
    government in American history deliberately setting out to
    create a majority population of dependents. This is the first
    government in American history that considers elections
    inconvenient.
    Before you make all of these sweeping and hahahaha and rude
    statements about different political factions, how about doing
    some reading and citing some facts?
    You know, I read stuff here, as is evidenced above, that indicates
    that people do not even know what the Electoral College is. I
    spend my time on this because I’m trying to figure out why the
    current administration pursues policies that assure a permanent
    underclass, that are wiping out the ecosystem of 20 percent of
    the U.S. landmass, that pursue war without strategy or end —
    I’m trying to figure out why these policies are popular with the
    left. I haven’t figured it out yet. But my strong suspicion is that
    one modest reason these things are popular with the left
    because the left would rather call people names than read 300
    pp of history, and actually find out what is actually going on.
    Such as the difference between the Populist Movement in 1892
    and 1896.
    –drew
    Leesburg, VA and Storm Lake, Iowa
    (I am at the office and apologize for the typos etc.)

    Reply

  45. Brent says:

    Hey, would JFK make it in the current Democrat party? How about Truman?
    These questions do nothing but show your “love affair” with the New Democrat party, aka Progressive Elites regardless of real life issues.

    Reply

  46. Maw of America says:

    The real clash of civilizations in the GOP will come when the Ron/Rand Paul conservatives have to reconcile the religious and war-loving right with their libertarian brethren.
    Just revisit the Paul’s statements about our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as their thoughts on government intrusion into things like privacy in your bedroom and prayer in schools.
    I shaking with anticipation!

    Reply

  47. questions says:

    Admittedly the link is to a HuffPo piece, so it’s probably not worth nadine’s or drew’s time, but for the rest of us, there do seem to be some valid stats on job seeking juxtaposed to some Angle and Rand comments, among those of others, about the qualities of those unemployed souls.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/02/unemployment-rate-jobless_n_633805.html
    It’s worth a click to see the difference between the rhetoric on the Tea Party-right and the, ummm, facts on the ground.
    It’s also worth trying to figure out how deeply structural this version of unemployment and recession/depression is. If one of the drivers is high productivity among very few workers and the firing/laying off of many others, there may be nothing we can really do save coping until some new sector of the economy opens up.

    Reply

  48. Don Bacon says:

    The Tea Party protests have centered on opposition to big government, TARP, ARRA stimulus and medical insurance for all, which have hardly been radical positions since the majority of Americans agree with them.

    Reply

  49. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “intellectual elites running the economies of Europe”
    First, why did these “”intellectual elites” that supposedly run the economies of Europe cause the problem in the first place?
    And how can several individuals run economies?
    Are Sarkozy and Merkel really intellectual elites?
    Would they still be intellectual elites if they had decided to spend more francs and marks?

    Reply

  50. questions says:

    Don Bacon, 12:35 — wow!! It really was readable. Amazing how tolerant our eyes and brains can be! As a side note, I have read in many places that English produces far more dyslexics than other languages because of the crazy spelling conventions we’re oh so wedded to. Interesting research.
    WigWag, I try so hard not to be ungenerous to positions I find ludicrous, especially when I see touches of racism around the edges of those positions, so I worked very hard not to write what Kervick writes a little above.
    And, in fact the Tea Party sympathizers I know and deal with regularly are not democrats, do not read kos, do not actually read much of anything that disagrees with their positions, can only give the Fox version of events.
    I don’t limit myself to kos, and you should probably have a sense of that by now. And I don’t think that “kos” is univocal anyway. There is some very good material there, and, as I noted previously, some that is batshit insane. I ignore the crazy stuff and pay attention to David Waldman and a few other posters, a few diarists who do nice work, and some cross-referencing links as needed.
    I think your post acknowledging Krugman is both sane and the sort of thing to be completely ignored by the Tea Party. The Cassidy book does a wonderful job of taking apart conservative economic prescriptions and showing the problems that result. It’s analytic, clear, understandable to those of us w/o doctorates in economics and math, and it really demolishes anything the Tea Party might want to do.
    There is much that demolishes the Tea Party preferences socially as well. Rand Paul’s version, Sharron Angle’s version — ugly stuff floating around there.
    And despite my total disagreement with policy, disgust at an underlying racialism, I respect the discomfort that people have with the world as it is as they lose status. It doesn’t feel good to have what you value most tossed into the ash heap of history, and when what you value is (false) status about your position and worth, it’s really hard to cope.
    I won’t be as harsh as Kervick because I do see the loss as painful, and I do know personally and deal with many others who face this loss of social status.
    Doesn’t make me think the policies they advocate are the slightest bit workable…..
    And, yes, by the way, I even know some small business people. And there are plenty of small business people who aren’t Tea Partiers.
    Let’s not forget the astroturf side of the whole thing. It’s part of the total picture and is worth mentioning now and again.

    Reply

  51. Dan Kervick says:

    William Jennings Bryan’s populism wasn’t just a lot of “popular” bloviating and griping from the Leave Me Alone crowd, WigWag. It was an impressively extensive agenda for pro-farmer and pro-labor activist government, which included a whole lot of measures that contemporary tea partiers would decry as socialistic.
    You are right to point out that the lame anti-Wall Street rhetoric of the tea party – which actually seems to have died down quite a bit as the TPers have reverted to business-as-usual pro-corporation Republicanism – is not combined with any agenda which is likely to impact Wall Street at all.
    Now one explanation of that is that the tea partiers are not too bright. But I think they are no dumber than anyone else, and that a better answer is that they value white taxpayer solidarity over any sort activist agenda based on economic interests. The tea partier making 50K to 70K a year with a decent company health plan, and who is so far lucky enough not to have been laid off and not to need any government assistance, feels much more solidarity with the white corporate exec making 10 to 100 times his salary than he does with the brown-toned people making 10K to 20K less than he does.
    I am a little surprised by continuing tendencies to see the tea party as some new form of populism. It’s just plain old anti-government Republicanism. The rhetoric might be a little more strident than in the past, but these folks were geared up and ready to go the moment Barack Obama was elected, and when the votes came in they hit the ground running.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    Krugman refutes the Tea Partiers and their soul mates, intellectual elites running the economies of Europe, here:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/opinion/02krugman.html?hp

    Reply

  53. W.E.B. Du Bois says:

    Oh, I also disagree that Obama would consider getting rid of Biden. When has a President ever asked a non-scandal ridden or even scandal-ridden VP to step down?

    Reply

  54. W.E.B. Du Bois says:

    I disagree with several of the points in the original post.
    I think it is true that Reagan would not have been elected as President if he were to run for the 2012 nomination with his record as Governor as California. He signed a law authorizing abortions. We saw what happened to Giuliani in 2008. Reagan would go down like that as well.
    As for the Tea Partiers, it’s not black and white with them. Yes, many of them are morons, but they are one of the largest ideological groups in the country with 30% of Americans saying they support the Tea Party. That 30% can be more than 30% in many districts, so they can win elections. They’re also large enough that they can take enough losses from turning away moderates and still winning. They can win and they can lose, it’s not black and white.
    As for Petraeus, I don’t think it matters much that the Tea Party is driving the Republican Party. The Tea Party hated McCain and he won anyway. McCain’s respectability and military background is very much in line with Petraeus’. Petraeus might only need a moment or two of “no mam, he is a citizen family man with whom I disagree” to deal with the real morons of the Tea Party.
    It’s really a question of Petraeus’ beliefs on domestic policy, moreso than foreign policy that will determine if he runs as a Republican or not.

    Reply

  55. Don Bacon says:

    The Keynes approach on how to handle a recession may have been “clearly right” in Keynes’s time but this is not your father’s recession that can be countered with dollops of welfare and road and house construction. A recent poll has indicated that over half the work force has been affected, one way or another, by this recession. That’s bigger than any government can fix.
    A fundamental restructuring of the American economy is occurring away from traditional forms of employment and toward a lower standard of living and service-based employment. The government can either join the revolution or it can pine for the good old days — which included the nefarious deals between the two political parties which Steve values — while continuing to extract blood and treasure from Americans for expensive political shenanigans (like war).

    Reply

  56. Don Bacon says:

    drew,
    Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by itslef but the wrod as a wlohe.

    Reply

  57. WigWag says:

    I think that you are being unfair, Questions, when you suggest that Tea Party supporters are less interested in hearing all opinions than you (or those who agree with you) are.
    Perhaps you’re right; maybe Tea Party aficionados do prefer Fox News. Are you suggesting that they get a more skewed view of current events there than you get by being a viewer of MSNBC or a reader of the Daily Kos?
    It seems to me that the Tea Party movement is part of a venerable tradition in American politics; in many but certainly not all ways, it harkens back to the conflict in the Democratic Party (circa the late 1890s) between Grover Cleveland and William Jennings Bryant. Today’s “Tea Partiers” share Cleveland’s frugality and Bryant’s populism.
    It seems to me that believers in this philosophy are entitled to be engaged with respect. The problem is not that they are uninformed, alienated or dumb (which is what you suggested); the problem is that their policy prescriptions are wrong.
    People who believe like the tea partiers do, that the answer to a deep and severe recession, is to be found by the practice of fiscal austerity, should be asked to explain what the precise mechanisms are through which austerity reduces unemployment, raises living standards and avoids a disastrous and intractable deflationary cycle. To date, I’ve neither heard nor read an intelligent and coherent explanation for how austerity negates recession.
    But to be fair, it’s not just the tea partiers who believe passionately that fiscal austerity is the way to go. In Europe, where the prevailing cultural sentiments have very little in common with the cultural sentiments of the Tea Party, fiscal austerity also rules the day.
    Have you watched the economic policies recently announced in Great Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands (not to mention Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland)?
    Those policies would make the Tea Partiers proud, but somehow I have the feeling that the citizens of those nations aren’t getting all their information from Fox News.
    Keynes approach on how to handle a recession is clearly right, but because it is counterintuitive it is frequently unpopular. Tea Partiers find it hard to accept; but so do highly sophisticated and intelligent politicians like Merkel, Sarkozy and Cameron. There

    Reply

  58. Don Bacon says:

    Petraeus isn’t particularly well-spoken?
    Au contraire, the man has a genius for telling people what they want to know, with excellent timing. As a relatively unknown officer in September 2004, during the finals of the presidential election, Petraeus penned an op-ed for the WaPo with rosy predictions for Iraq, giving Bush a necessary boost. His predictions (regarding the Iraqi army) were dead wrong, but look at him now.
    Recently General Petraeus was confirmed by the Senate 99-0. Currently Petraeus out-polls Obama. Most American voters have “a great deal” (29 percent) or “some” (36 percent) confidence in Gen. Petraeus. For comparison, 26 percent of voters have “a great deal” and 31 percent have “some” confidence in Obama.

    Reply

  59. Dan Kervick says:

    So now the tea party is the champion of “Madisonianism”? And its opponent is “Wilsonianism”? OK fine, whatever. The flailing about for dignified labels continues.
    The tea party is not a “reaction” to anything, other than the standard reaction to the election of a Democrat. I remember listening to essentially the same ranting during the transition period from November 1992 to January 1993, as people from mainly conservative districts called in to radio shows all over the country to rail in tears against Clinton the Socialist. Now its Obama the Socialist. Before that it was Carter the Socialist, Johnson the Socialist, Kennedy the Socialist, Truman the Socialist and Roosevelt the Socialist.
    There is a standing group in this country that presumes to hate all taxes, love guns and hate the federal government. This group has been especially prominent since the postwar period, and has been obnoxiously ill-tempered, and nearly just as hysterical, for as long as they have been around. It used to be that the country’s cultural and ruling elites had them well under control, but the wild growth of more popular and accessible forms of democratic media has given them (and others) an ever louder voice in this country than they used to have. Now we live in a crankocracy.
    The members of this group are almost all white (though not exclusively), and especially hate the idea of the government taking any of those taxes they despise so much, and redistributing the money to browner and presumably less industrious Americans. The latest tea party fad according to which the 10% to 20% of Americans who don’t have jobs are all just shiftless parasitical bums who need a kick in the pants and a kick off the dole is typical of the species.
    The tea party folks are not less educated than other Americans. And they are not poorer or particularly beleaguered economically. They are just selfish, antisocial and obstreperous assholes, with no end of bees in their bonnet about everyone who is not them.
    One characteristic of the tea party types is their grandiose estimations of their own individual industry and desert. They actually think that all of the wealth represented by figure that appear on the gross salary line on their paychecks is the product of their own individual labor and merit. So they regard all taxation as a case of taking away something that is “theirs”. This is incredibly thick-headed, and reflects a crude understanding of the way wealth and value are created in a complex economy.
    Many of us work very hard. But we know there are other individuals working just as hard around the world, but whose labors return to them a measure of wealth that most Americans would regard as a horrifying pittance. A moment’s reflection tells us why our own labors deliver higher rewards to us. The society we live in has made us the better part of what we are. It has created and invested us with the skills it took pains to lodge in our stubbornly resistant brains and it has built the material conditions and infrastructure that surround us. These are the conditions that enable our labors to be as productive as they are. Without that input from innumerable others, often produced cooperatively and in a governed, organized fashion, most of us would be barely worth the excrement we produce. These externally produced resources are the massive result of both private *and public* investments, made over decades even centuries, most long before we started pounding numbers into our own little keyboards or started pulling the levers on our own little fork trucks.
    So I have no sympathy for these caterwauling tea partiers. Most of them are spoiled, rotten babies: beneficiaries a kind of national trust fund that has been bequeathed to them along with everybody else, and who are desperate to hold onto the largest shares they can carry in their chubby, grasping little arms.

    Reply

  60. nadine says:

    questions, has your Tea Party research ever extended to attending a Tea Party rally and talking to some of the people who were there, and asking them how they got there? What signs of “astro-turfing” did you see? Were the people at the rally bussed in by some organization? Were they all carrying the same pre-printed signs?
    …or did you just talk to fellow Democrats about the Tea Parties?
    drew, there are Tea Party rallies in every state. Even here in deepest blue Vermont.

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  61. questions says:

    Dear Drew,
    I know many people across the country, and indeed not everyone is from Mid-town Manhattan and/or San Francisco. Funny, that.
    And I read a lot of actual scholarship, not just Investors’ Business Daily.
    Oh, and you’re quite welcome for the occasional bits of grammar I remember vaguely from my posh east coast liberal education. Sometimes I can get the period thing down.but some.times.I forgett how to u.se pun.ctuatio.n. stuff iz confuzin. int-it?
    So consider that economics has developed a wide range of concepts that make the ultra conservative postage-sized-drowned-in-a-bathtub style government fairly unworkable. Read up on the prisoner’s dilemma for the most basic. Read up on choice architecture, irrationality, the money illusion. Follow the cross links and see what you think in the end. It’s pretty interesting stuff. And as I have noted here, even Alan Greenspan himself has backed off of some of his fundamentalist views. There are problems with the lack of regulation, the lack or taxation, unprogressive taxation. Lots and lots of problems.
    Immigration data don’t show what the Tea Party wants to see. But that’s for another posting one day. I’ve already written much about these issues. Go dig through the archives.
    with warm regards for grammar when i remember too youse it propperlee.
    –questions

    Reply

  62. drew says:

    Consider this casual anthropology.
    Questions, thanks so much for using periods this time.
    Query: Where do you get your information? You mention ‘reading
    and talking to people’. Are the latter people who own farms or
    businesses? Anyone west of the Alleghenies and east of SFO Bay?
    With warm regards for primary research,
    –drew

    Reply

  63. questions says:

    nadine,
    no, not dumb. And as I noted there is a core of legitimate concern that has been co-opted by a lot of overwrought hysteria, vast amounts of misinformation, and deep discomfort over the status loss. I think the status loss is probably a huge factor. And in fact, the status loss is real. The society is in the throes of fairly major demographic shifts and the in group never welcomes that feeling of loss.
    The misinformation is real, though. The deficits and their effects are not certain, the Bush tax cuts did not help, further tax cuts and basic austerity measures are likely to cause more problems than they’ll cure. Economists label this as the paradox of saving. If we all save, we all end up unemployed. It’s rational for some of us to save and some of us to spend, but austerity will make us all be savers and we’ll cycle down.
    Chris Christie has it wrong, the Tea Party view of things has it wrong on economics.
    Immigration legal and illegal probably will help the economy, but Arizona, and the Tea Party, have it wrong. Crime is far less an issue than they claim (that’s a fact thing), and cheap labor makes the world go round.
    Taxes are necessary and social services are necessary. The Tea Party has this wrong. Many partiers seem to be dependent on government services of all sorts, and yet they want other people’s services cut off.
    “Other people’s services” is the operating term here, and here’s where you see the demographic changes that make people uncomfortable.
    I get the feeling you’re not going to find too many blue collar laborers who want to work til age 70. I get the feeling that if you explain to people that privatizing Social Security will lead to: the privatization of risk such that retiring bankrupt is not unlikely, high fees on small accounts, and no guarantee of even a bare minimum of income to help you get through the month, you will not find a lot of takers.
    I get the feeling that you’re not going to find a lot of senior citizens who would be thrilled to give up Medicare and take their chances with private insurance at age 75 or 83…. The Tea Party orthodoxy would seem to want to end such programs, but honestly, if you think through what we’d have in their place, not such a great idea.
    What the Tea Party boils down to, near as I can tell from my reading and talking to people is: top down “astroturfing” organization that feeds off bottom-up resentment and fear and ignorance.
    If there’s anything more coherent than that, I’d be pretty surprised.
    And given how much the Tea Party seems to want to take away from people, I’d be surprised if it could function at all as a governance structure. Remember, we hate loss more than we love the same gain, so losing benefits hurts hurts hurts. Ain’t no one takin’ away someone’s bennies.

    Reply

  64. nadine says:

    “Steve is entirely right about the impact of the Tea Party on Obama. The stronger the Tea Party gets, the stronger Obama gets. Paradoxically, Obama’s reelection prospects are also probably enhanced if the Republicans do well in the mid term elections (regardless of whether they actually win back control of either chamber).” (Wigwag)
    I disagree, Wigwag. You’re assuming Obama is nimble and could pivot to the center the way Clinton did after the 1994 elections. I see no sign of that whatsoever. As long as Obama stays stuck on the far left (whatever illusions he may harbor about his being a moderate), the Tea Party’s strength will only pull moderate Democrats away from him.
    “Is there anyone on the left who went to civics classes? Anyone at all?” (drew)
    I don’t think so, drew. They all went to new American schools where American history is taught as a shameful parade of racism and bigotry (until the Progressives arrived), and the Constitution is never mentioned, except as a “living document. They never learned the law of supply and demand, either.

    Reply

  65. Drew says:

    Kenny B.,
    “I wasn’t aware that we gave voting rights
    to landmasses in presidential elections.”
    “The weird 18th century fetishism has only a tangential
    relationship to history (pretty much starting and
    ending with the tri-corner hat), and the sense of
    persecution is absolutely baffling.”
    Is there anyone on the left who went to civics classes? Anyone at
    all?
    love,
    –drew (who is not a high school civics teacher)

    Reply

  66. WigWag says:

    One thing that will be interesting to watch over time is whether the “tea party” supplements the Republican Party’s electoral base (huge numbers of evangelicals, libertarians and business-oriented conservatives) or whether it comes to compete with elements of that base, especially the evangelicals. Tea Partiers are, for the most part, interested in economic and financial issues not cultural issues. The cultural issues that make tea partiers yawn are enormously important to evangelicals. How this all sorts out will be very important to Republican politicians, especially in places like South Carolina where Lindsey Graham’s political future may depend on it.
    Graham is right, Ronald Reagan probably couldn’t get nominated in today’s Republican Party; neither could George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon or Gerald Ford. But Graham is missing something when he says he wants a Republican Party than can attract “Reagan Democrats.” My guess is that a substantial portion of the Reagan Democrats that he wants the Republican Party to attract have morphed into “Tea Partiers.” The rest of the Reagan Democrats (e.g. members of industrial unions who favored a strong defense) simply no longer exist.
    I think Steve is wrong about the durability of Petraeus and right about the effect of the Tea Party on Obama. I think it is highly doubtful that Petraeus has a political future. A General hasn’t been elected President since Eisenhower and he didn’t just lead any war, he led the effort in World War II. Subsequent to that, numerous “war heroes” have been defeated at the polls by candidates who never even served in the military. Clinton, who evaded the draft, defeated two war heroes, George H.W. Bush (who survived after his plane was shot down by the Japanese) and Bob Dole (who lost partial use of his arm). Barack Obama, who never served, defeated John McCain who was actually a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. My guess is that America’s love affair with military leaders turned politician is over.
    Then we have the question of whether Petraeus would even be a good politician. He isn’t particularly well-spoken; he doesn’t have strong relationships with the people on Wall Street, in the energy industry or the pharmaceutical industry who fund Republican presidential campaigns; and as of yet he hasn’t demonstrated any inclination to advocate the social positions of the Party’s evangelical base (see for example his position on gay people serving in the military).
    All in all, I would say that Petraeus has virtually no chance of capturing the Republican nomination in 2012 or 2016. The chattering classes might prefer to speculate about the political future of Petraeus then report on things that actually matter, but the likelihood that he will ever be president is close to nil.
    Steve is entirely right about the impact of the Tea Party on Obama. The stronger the Tea Party gets, the stronger Obama gets. Paradoxically, Obama’s reelection prospects are also probably enhanced if the Republicans do well in the mid term elections (regardless of whether they actually win back control of either chamber).
    The only legitimate Republican candidate with even a theoretical chance of defeating Obama is Mitt Romney and even Romney has major infirmities (his creation of the health care program in Massachusetts and his membership in the LDS Church being the two most prominent). Who else is there that the Republicans might nominate who could win? Huckabee? He could never raise the money. Palin? As many people hate her as love her. Gingrich? He can’t subdue his contemptible personality. Pawlenty? Listening to him speak is like watching paint dry. Ironically, the one Republican who could defeat Obama is McCain, but unfortunately for the Republicans, that ship has sailed.
    What makes all of this particularly ironic is that in ordinary circumstances, Obama would be eminently beatable. None of the traditional Republican states that he won last time will go his way in 2012 and he’s likely to lose Florida and perhaps Ohio as well. But as the old saying goes, “you can’t beat something with nothing” and the Republicans don’t seem to have “something” on the Presidential level.
    What Steve doesn’t get is that the Republican Party of Lincoln Chafee, Rita Hauser, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Lugar, Chuck Hagel, James Baker and Steve Clemons is dead and buried; it’s never coming back. The only people who agree with Chafee, Hauser and Clemons are Democrats. It

    Reply

  67. Kenny B. says:

    “You want a synonym for tea-party supporter? Try
    ‘taxpayer’.”
    Seems like a pretty self-centered assessment.
    I pay taxes, and I think the “team party” movement
    is entirely incoherent and irrational. The weird
    18th century fetishism has only a tangential
    relationship to history (pretty much starting and
    ending with the tri-corner hat), and the sense of
    persecution is absolutely baffling.

    Reply

  68. nadine says:

    “Make no mistake, we are headed in the right direction,” Obama said before boarding Air Force One en route to Sen. Robert Byrd’s funeral in West Virginia.
    If “down” is the right direction, he’s got that straight.

    Reply

  69. nadine says:

    drew,
    Word.

    Reply

  70. Kenny B. says:

    “Only 20 percent of the US landmass voted for Obama”
    You almost had me fooled until you pulled out this
    argument. I wasn’t aware that we gave voting rights
    to landmasses in presidential elections.
    No, indeed, we have the Senate for that, and the
    functionality of the Senate accurately reflects the
    cleverness of a “democratic” system built on such a
    concept.

    Reply

  71. nadine says:

    Sure, questions, anybody who disagrees with you is dumb and only watches Fox. Yeah, that must be it.
    Nobody could possibly be alarmed at out of control spending, trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, and the coming tsunami of taxes that will be imposed in a vain effort to pay for it, thus killing economic growth stone dead.
    Nope, they are just knuckle-dragging idiots who “feel panic at any kind of loss that is far beyond what affects them in any real way”.
    You want a synonym for tea-party supporter? Try “taxpayer”. Try “small business owner”. They are already being affected up close and personal, and can see what’s coming. Why do you think private sector hiring has ground to a halt? Uncertainty is through the roof with all the government takeovers and meddling.
    As for Lyndsey Graham, what a maroon. Any Reagan figure would be embraced with delight today. It is the Democrats who have lurched to the left of George McGovern. George McGovern himself, who spent some time in the private sector since leaving politics, has criticized Obama & the current Democrats for being too far to the left!
    But I hope more Democrats think like you questions. November will catch them completely unprepared. BTW Rassmussen just released a poll of voter party affiliation. in June 2008 Dems had a 10 point advantage. Today, they have a 2 point advantage. This means it’s going to be more brutal for them than the polls are saying, since the polls haven’t caught up with the new affiliations.

    Reply

  72. Don Bacon says:

    And in today’s news:
    WASHINGTON (AP)

    Reply

  73. drew says:

    There are so many errors of assumption, study and logic in this
    piece, Kurtz’ discussions, and Senator Graham’s defensive
    rambling that one doesn’t know where to start.
    The Tea Party, first of all, is not a party. So all this looking under
    rocks for a platform and a “governing plan” is mistaken. The
    Tea Party is a cultural and economic reaction to Wilsonian
    progressive excess. One may call the Tea Party the Know
    Nothing Party, but this is a) name-calling, not thought; b)
    ignorant of history (i.e., you’re calling Madison a Know Nothing
    when you do this); and c) precisely the wrong thing to do
    (engage in condescension as a political tactic) if you wish to
    understand and defeat the Tea Partiers.
    I don’t have a problem with Wilsonian Progressives seeking the
    internment of Madisonian originalism, Madisonian restraint, but I
    do have a big problem with Madisonians being condescended to
    and ridiculed for the wrong reasons, divorced of fact. These are
    not subhuman ignorant people; they happen to be the people
    who make payroll, plow ground, take vacations in their cars and
    RVs instead of A380’s to Bali. The reason they are formidable is
    that the country doesn’t function without them: they are the
    ones who pay the taxes that fund the 47% of the country that
    contributes nothing, nada, zilch, and the very special people
    who survive on tax-advantaged contributions or presume to run
    our government. Ridicule and condescension alienate these
    people, and when that happens the country stops working. This
    is what so-called Progressives dare to do: alienate, and then
    somehow yet compel, productive people to sustain a political
    economy of entitlement that suborns them. Good luck with
    that.
    This tendency in American society to confuse style (ooh, the Tea
    Partiers don’t buy their jeans at Barneys, QED they’re morons)
    with substance (we buy our jeans at Barneys, and therefore we
    have MPAs from Kennedy) is very dangerous right now. Only 20
    percent of the US landmass voted for Obama, and five decades
    of racial gerrymandering concentrate his support in the smallest
    physical footprint possible. Eighty percent (80%) of the U.S.
    landmass, and these are people who own property and land, not
    rent apartments, feel disenfranchised by this government.
    Anyway, back to a couple of obvious whoppers. Read Reagan’s
    analysis of national health care, delivered in the early 1960’s, to
    bury this trope of Graham’s that Reagan is unelectable today.
    It’s a lovely soundbite, Sen. Graham; WTF is your substantiating
    evidence? Of course, in the city of power haircuts, he doesn’t
    have to offer any substantiating evidence; the poodle press
    repeats it and runs. Reagan’s analysis of nationalized health
    care is in fact a rallying cry of the independent, Tea Party
    Madisonians: he encapsulates in one discussion of one issue the
    potential failure of the American idea — and that is what
    motivates the Tea Party.
    And if Reagan is unelectable, what is Sen. Graham’s point? That
    the 2:1 ratio of self-identified conservatives to liberals is fiction?
    That Reagan (Grenada, Panama, Tear Down this Wall, Evil Empire,
    Goodbye, Gorby!) would be perceived as namby-pamby by these
    nutjob Tea Partiers? Graham has his reasons for what he does,
    but who the heck appointed him the Wizard of Oz?
    Repeating soundbites by guys with bad haircuts and Brooks
    Brothers suits is not analysis or leadership.
    The Tea Party is a group of small business and farming people
    who resent the corruption of the currency, resent crony
    capitalism, resent the confiscation of their wealth and property,
    and resent and the intrusion of smarty-pants types from
    Washington into otherwise orderly lives 1000 miles away.
    Madison attempted to protect us from this crap, and the year’s
    decision will be: Madison or Wilson?
    Condescension and argument without reference to evidence
    assures the collapse of the Wilsonian Progressive ideal, because
    Mencken was very, very wrong: it is very possible to
    underestimate the intelligence of the U.S. populace. When
    Mencken wrote that, he forgot about, or wished that we forgot
    about, Madison and his vision.
    (I’m at work so I apologize for any typos.)

    Reply

  74. Don Bacon says:

    Senator Graham’s film preferences and efforts in the Senate notwithstanding, and even with the failure of the Tea Party to have a viable platform, the American people are mad as hell and want to bring down the bought-and-paid-for representatives and senators who are mismanaging the country. The disapproval of Congress is now 71% (RCP poll average) and as the recession deepens, the Congress cuts benefits, the American lifestyle vanishes for many and unemployment increases it can only get worse. To dismiss citizens as Fox watchers is wrong.
    What do do? The citizens have been given examples by the government in its foreign affairs. A country displeases us? — lay waste to it, liberate it and who cares what happens then. Throw the bums out (not a bad plan).
    We’re entering uncharted waters, and who knows what Ross Perot-type will come along to fill the populist political void.

    Reply

  75. questions says:

    The Tea Party sympathizers I know seem to have a few traits in common: they are part of the oppressed majority, which translates into a feeling of lost status,
    they are Fox watchers with no other source of competing information and especially no scholarly distance from the issue (read the Walt complaint Carroll pasted elsewhere — the distance Walt bemoans is crucial for decent analysis….),
    they feel panic at any kind of loss that is far beyond what affects them in any real way, but is felt quite deeply and genuinely
    they benefit from a vast array of government programs but still somehow think they’d be fine without, or think that the programs that benefit them are good, but no other program is
    they rightly catch on to the corruption that is real and really needs to be dealt with
    so there’s a moment of truth in the position that we should recognize, but a whole lot of crap gets laden on the this one part of the story that is rational

    Reply

  76. Kenny B. says:

    This is a nice piece with some interesting
    speculation. I think the one thing that’s missing
    from these political prognostications, however, is
    perceptions of the global economy. I’ve become more
    and more convinced that so much of the tea party
    anger is just frustration at the economic situation
    expressed in the form of aimless political ranting.
    Obama makes an easy target in this regard, for a
    number of reasons.
    A lot of things could change, however, between now
    and 2012, so there’s probably good reason to assume
    that foreign and defense policy could move to the
    fore if the economy doesn’t do anything drastic.

    Reply

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